Two new walk-in clinics in Barrie will prescribe medical marijuana

A chain of cannabis clinics and a local pharmacy are set to open two family-style walk-in clinics in Barrie. They'll be the only clinics to offer medical marijuana prescriptions in the city.

3 doctors will staff the clinics and will prescribe medical cannabis as well as other medications

Cannabis capsules can be perscribed as part of a medical treatment plan. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Come January, residents in Barrie will have a new way to access medical marijuana.

Avail Cannabis Clinics in partnership with Express Aid Pharmacy will open two family style-walk-in clinics, and they'll be the only clinics to offer medical marijuana prescriptions in the city.

Justin Whitehall, the director of Avail Cannabis Clinics, explained how the clinics will work to Wei Chen, host of CBC's Ontario Morning on Wednesday.

"These clinics are the first chain of family-style walk-in clinics to provide medical cannabis authorizations in addition to conventional medications and assessments. The whole family would be welcome to seek access to our medical services," he said.

Each clinic will be able to serve up to 100 people per day.

Patients would be assessed by a practitioner who will be able to give registered clients same-day access to medical cannabis.

All of the physicians are fully trained in cannabinoid therapy, though no cannabis products will be distributed on-site. Instead, doctors will approve prescriptions and products will be mailed to patients by a producer licensed by Health Canada.

Whitehall explained that there are several differences between someone receiving a prescription for medical marijuana and self medicating with recreational marijuana from the online Ontario Cannabis Store.

"Many licensed producers that are regulated by Health Canada are offering discounts based upon annual income, and also senior citizens can receive up to 30 per cent off. But most importantly you receive that one-on-one medical care."

Whitehall said physician assessments and follow-up are included as well as a medication review by Express Aid Pharmacy to avoid any possible negative interactions with other medications.

Why a walk-in?

So why not just head to your family doctor to get a prescription for medicinal cannabis? Why the need for a walk in clinic? And why not just order your marijuana online now that it's legal?

Whitehall explained that less than 10 per cent of Canadian family doctors or specialists are prescribing medical cannabis to their patients right now. He said doctors owe it to their patients to be educated now that cannabis is becoming mainstream. 

He also said that he believes that going through the medical channels will provide more availability of products with a higher concentration of CBD — the secondary cannabinoid found in the plant that has significant anti-inflammatory benefits without the psychoactive effects.  

Whitehall stressed that medical cannabis is not for everyone but that there's the right time for the right person.

"To be able to make that assessment in an environment where clients are not segregated, we felt was very important."